News Post

When a new sports title drops, anticipation surrounds the release. People scourer message boards and try to get first-hand impressions from their peers. They read reviews, watch game footage and inspect every little screen capture they can on the Web. Still, nothing beats getting it into our grubby little hands for the ultimate experience.

When a game has major flaws, especially a much-anticipated title, it is a letdown to say the least. You can hear about these problems through the grapevine, or you can discover first-hand the reason why you may have wasted your $60.

Read More - When a Patch is Just Too Late to Save a Game

Game: NCAA Football 09Reader Score: 7/10 - Vote Now
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Member Comments
# 1 spit_bubble @ 12/13/08 05:11 PM
"...this situation made me think about how patches are great..."

I really think patches are nothing less than a disgrace. It means the product is broken and needs fixing. Downloadable content, expansions, and add-ons are another story, as they augment already finished products. Patches however, are a bad thing in my mind.
# 2 jkra0512 @ 12/13/08 05:24 PM
While patches give companies an excuse to rush an otherwise unfinished product, it does provide free beta testing from such die-hard fans from communities like OS.

I don't like it, but I'd rather have patches for a game that I like than to buy something completely broken with no chance of fixing.

I'm glad patches are only for games, imagine if it were for cars. "Nice pretty new engine, design is flawless, handles great." A month later.....

# 3 ASB37 @ 12/13/08 06:16 PM
Patches have become a necessary evil almost. We would all rather not have our games patched, but we will always find flaws in a release. A patch addresses these flaws. My biggest gripe is that the testing before a game is initially released does not seem to be as comprehensive. As others have mentioned a games release is seen as a free worldwide beta test for the companies. That is where I have a problem.
# 4 duke776 @ 12/13/08 09:51 PM
Great Article
# 5 kestrel @ 12/13/08 10:41 PM
Patches are supposed to be used to fix an overlooked error, glitch, or security issue; something that somehow slipped through testing and made it into the retail version of a program.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, patches have become a crutch to rush a program and meet a deadline: Get the product out on time in as minimal a working condition as necessary, then patch it when all the kinks get out. Patches have become a way to get more development time in.

Now, I have no hard evidence to indicate this, but the issues that plagued this year's iteration of NCAA Football, and how and when they were discovered, seem to lend themselves to this conclusion: the game seemed rushed and contained some glaring issues, some not even resolved from the previous year (roster re-ordering, broken sliders, game-play issues) that were discovered almost immediately as the game found its way into people's consoles. Many wondered what the testers were testing or even if there were any testers to begin with.

All the while, programming for this generation of consoles is far more difficult and complex than in previous generations. Patches have become a necessary part of console gaming from here on out. Case in point, I don't own many PS3 games, but almost all of them have been patched, some of those two or more times.

So, patches are a good thing, if they are used as they are intended. Unfortunately, as with all good things, their use is easily (and most likely has become) perverted.
# 6 DubTrey1 @ 12/14/08 01:01 AM
Great article - Patches are a necessary evil at this point and time. It seems so much time is spent on development that little time is allowed for proper testing and QA. Either case, I am for patches. Even more so considering there is no "getting it right the first time" in so many cases - sports titles especially.
# 7 Solidice @ 12/14/08 01:22 AM
patches don't bother me. but I'm used to it being a PC gamer as well. heck, they are still patching BF2 and that game has been out over 2 years.
# 8 PRGUY85 @ 12/14/08 09:05 AM
This was a something that could have benefited an awful game like Don King Presents: Prizefighter...
# 9 markprior22 @ 12/14/08 09:32 AM
I am in total agreement with the OP. When it comes to sports titles that are released every year, timing is everything. If it takes 2 months for a patch to be released, I'm probably way past having any interest in playing. More beta testing from people like those on OS would be a great help. Most people would gladly do it for a free copy of the game. Many would do it for free. If these companies won't do this, it only leads me to believe one thing. They are already aware of the problems and just don't have time to fix them before release. That is fraudulent IMO.
# 10 deadlyCane @ 12/14/08 09:44 AM
I'll preface this by saying I don't have concrete evidence about what I'm go say. But I believe EA is most focused on meeting a deadline than making a game devoid of flaws. In an ideal world, the best business model for EA would be to make a near "perfect" game that everyone rave about. It would sell like hot cakes as word spreads about how this game is so great. I actually hate writing this but I highly doubt we'll ever see that.

Sports game generally don't lend themselves to best business models, especiall sports games with traction and history like NCAA and Madden. It's not like the developers are marketing a new untested game. These are games with an already established fan base of buyers and people who are fans of the particular sport. The author of the article is exactly the type of person EA needs and loves. It's someone who can't do without their fix of this year's version of their favorite sport, no matter how messed up it had been in the past. So the best business model for these types of games is to meet the deadline and then patch what you know is broken later. People are going to buy the damn game anyway, at least through anticipation or in hopes "they fixed what was broken last year." I don't know the author but I would bet good money he is going to buy this game next year. And if he comes away disappointed by his purchase, he is going to reward the culprits by buying their other product, Madden. It's an endless cycle that is a win win for EA. People just can't do without their virtual crack.

I don't think for a minute that EA QA/test these games with the intention to fix everything that is broken. Of course they fix some glaring issues prior to release. However, I would bet money that in the end time and budgetary constraints trumps devotion to create the best product possible. A big purpose of the QA process is to figure out what will be patched after release not what will be fixed before release. Basically, "find out the minimum amount of work we need to do for the game to be deemed at least acceptable."

If you accept the reality of the development cycle, a patch is much better than no patch. Why would you want a game where there is no hope its flaws will be fixed? I say be careful about writing that you don't like patches and how they are evil. It could be interpreted the wrong way. I actually don't like the article because it just says to EA that no matter what you guys do, you guys should just keep doing what you're doing. But of course, it's only a confirmation as I'm sure EA already knows that.
# 11 BoomerSooner11 @ 12/14/08 02:36 PM
That was a good read.
# 12 yankeesgiants @ 12/14/08 05:06 PM
At the end of the day, the responsibility is ON the consumer to do his or her homework before buying making a purchase plain and simple. ncaa 09 had a serious roster glitch that was known to the public BEFORE the game was released and yet one still waits in line at midnight to buy it. huh?? Wouldn't that make you wonder if something else is wrong before one plops down 60 bucks?? After all, what have these companies done to make you believe that the game will work properly out of the box? For the most part, the patches this year have been released a month after the game comes out. Why not just wait for the patches to be released and buy it used and if it still sucks to you, you can bring it back and get something else or buy it on ebay for 20 less dollars.
# 13 bayouboy747 @ 12/14/08 06:22 PM
I'll start off by saying I'm a diehard NCAA fan. I personally have no problem with NCAA pre or post patch. A game is just like any other form of entertainment, it's what YOU decide. I'm currently in the sixth season of an online dynasty with three of my buddies who live scattered across the U.S. Without NCAA's online dynasty mode my friends and I would have no way of playing a mulit-season football game.
# 14 Young J 334 @ 12/14/08 07:22 PM
Originally Posted by jkra0512
While patches give companies an excuse to rush an otherwise unfinished product, it does provide free beta testing from such die-hard fans from communities like OS.

I don't like it, but I'd rather have patches for a game that I like than to buy something completely broken with no chance of fixing.

I'm glad patches are only for games, imagine if it were for cars. "Nice pretty new engine, design is flawless, handles great." A month later.....

Intriguing! Lol that would be a disaster. Kinda like NCAA. But just like we still play this, people would attempt to drive their vehicle to see if it works right "post-patch".
# 15 buzzguy @ 12/14/08 07:48 PM
Patches...gotta love 'em! Imagine if there were no patches...at some point all of us would be stuck with a game with no solution to in-game problems in-sight...ever.
I spent a few years as a pc gamer, so they don't bother me that much. As long as they show-up in a timely manner.
# 16 rudyjuly2 @ 12/15/08 08:57 AM
Patches are good but there is no question they lead to a sloppy and rushed product. Why test it like crazy when the public can do it and you can patch it? Furthermore, patches take time. Unless it's something that is very simple we simply won't get them right away and you have to wait months.
# 17 Bootzilla @ 12/15/08 10:28 AM
By the time most patches are released, all of my enthusiasm for the game(s) has dissipated. I end up spending so much time tweaking sliders to make the pre-patched game playable that I simply do not feel like going back and re-tweaking once the patch is released. As strictly a sports gamer I find myself spending less time with each years releases. Maybe expectations are too high or maybe it's just gamer burnout.
# 18 Pared @ 12/15/08 02:29 PM
The biggest issue I have with patches is that games are released KNOWING they get a mulligan with the release of the first patch.

Developers know they can release a game and hopefully address the issues they KNOW are there via a patch. That's completely ridiculous and unfair to your loyal gamers who are there waiting on release day.

And before anyone goes on their fanboyerrific tirade in response, ALL companies are guilty of this. It's a problem with developers who use them as a safety blanket and companies who have their hands tied due to licensing agreements.
# 19 asu666 @ 12/15/08 05:16 PM
I dislike patches. We buy what is on the disc and too often that is incomplete or broken. NCAA 09 is a good example. It doesn't even have the rules right with the timeclock not being updated to reflect the change this year. We are three updates in and there are still generic stadiums being used. The offense rushes to the line and snaps the ball with 20 seconds left on the playclock on every play. Not to mention the gameplay issues and lack of presentation. How about how it takes forever to run through recruiting prospects becuase they take so long to load. Way too many issues for a title this deep into its run.
# 20 fistofrage @ 12/16/08 05:12 PM
Pretty pointless buying a game at release right now. Especially an EA sports game. I mean how many wasted hours did we have trying to make the abysmal AI playable when the sliders didn't work.

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